Keep­ing those birds

WINGS OF SUC­CESS To keep air­craft air­wor­thy, engi­neers need to have a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of ma­chines, quick de­ci­sion­mak­ing abil­ity, pa­tience and dis­ci­pline

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Aan­chal Bedi

The whole world seemed like a toy box full of things (that needed to be fixed) to Span­dan Dhar. This fas­ci­na­tion with gad­gets led to a ca­reer in avi­a­tion. “I was a naughty kid who was al­ways in­trigued by how things work. I used to open up ev­ery­thing at home, from tele­vi­sion sets to my brand new toys, although the out­come used to be dis­as­trous,” he says.

Though be­ing an air­craft main­te­nance engi­neer (AME) was not Dhar’s first pref­er­ence, he has no re­grets. “I al­ways wanted to be­come a pi­lot but the high price of pur­su­ing my dream was be­yond my means. So I thought why not get to know how these birds fly and what goes on be­hind the scenes to keep these huge me­tal birds aloft. And I started fo­cus­ing on AME,” he adds.

Dhar works with the line main­te­nance depart­ment at Indigo. “I work on air­bus air­crafts. While work­ing on these air­crafts, se­cu­rity checks, time and cost are vi­tal. The work­load is over­whelm­ing. AMEs typ­i­cally work on ro­tat­ing shifts — two morn­ing shifts fol­lowed by two af­ter­noon shifts and two night shifts and then one gets two days off — this varies from air­line to air­line. De­spite bad weather con­di­tions with tem­per­a­ture as high as 45 de­grees down to three de­grees and even tor­ren­tial down­pour, I have to stand on a trestle as high as 40 me­tres for hours at a stretch trou­bleshoot­ing a snag. If it takes too much time to fix the glitch, then the flight has to be can­celled as the lives of the pas­sen­gers can­not be com­pro­mised at any cost. A small goof-up can cost you your job as well as the li­cence. But the amount of sat­is­fac­tion I get when an air­craft takes to the skies is be­yond words,” he says.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing Class 12, Dhar pur­sued a three-year AME li­cence train­ing course from the In­dian In­sti­tute of Aero­nau­tics. “Un­like other streams, this is not a de­gree course. The course makes one el­i­gi­ble for a cer­tifi­cate called a ba­sic AME cer­tifi­cate. Train­ing is im­parted for ser­vic­ing and main­te­nance of air­craft. Af­ter com­plet­ing the course and pass­ing an in­ter­nal exam, one has to clear the li­cens­ing exam con­ducted by the Di­rec­torate Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion (DGCA), Gov­ern­ment of In­dia,” he says.

Talk­ing about his train­ing days, Dhar says, “There are mixed emo­tions about those days — dreams soar­ing high, des­per­ate need to prove your­self, pres­sure of high ex­pec­ta­tions and feel­ings of de­spair and des­o­la­tion. Given the mar­ket sce­nario, I was not sure whether I would ever be able to re­alise my goals.”

How­ever, the li­cence or cer­tifi­cate doesn’t guar­an­tee a job in this field. “Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, I was greeted with a stag­nant in­dus­try, with ab­so­lutely no room for a fresher. That’s why I turned to gen­eral avi­a­tion jobs. I worked for a non-sched­uled op­er­a­tor to gain some ex­pe­ri­ence. In or­der to ap­pear for the DGCA ex­ams, one needs prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence on air­craft, but most air­lines would turn you down un­less you had cleared these ex­ams. Of late, the sit­u­a­tion has im­proved as most of the in­sti­tutes help stu­dents find in­tern­ships in var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions which en­ables them to sit for DGCA ex­ams,” he says.

Shar­ing some ad­vice, Dhar says that there is no room for medi­ocrity and im­pa­tience in this field. “You need a lot of per­se­ver­ance, ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge to ex­cel. If you are not dis­ci­plined and have the zeal, then this is not your cup of tea.”

Ac­cord­ing to Span­dan Dhar there is no room for medi­ocrity and im­pa­tience in this field. A small goof-up will not only put the lives of fliers at risk, it will also cost you your job as well as the li­cence.

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